Why India's States Should Focus

DQI Bureau
New Update

Prasanto K Roy 


Marketing strategist Al Ries ( focuses on one premise. Focus! And

you grow, lead, dominate. Global giants grew when they focused: Dominoes, on 'delivery-30

minutes', FedEx on 'overnight'. Starbucks was the first coffee shop to

sell only coffee. Commonsense? Amazing how uncommon it is in a business world

brimming over with brand extensions (Kingfisher Airlines: We also make beer),

and more and more products that weaken brands.

How well do 'corporate' rules work for countries and states, especially

when they're competing to draw investment? Well, India's states are now as

much into marketing, branding and advertising as the average business house.

"It is better to be first than it is to be better." You know the

first man on the moon, the first online bookstore. The first or leading is fact,

data, record, history. There is little credibility in a 'better' claim. Be

the category creator, and the world remembers you. Bangalore is the global super

brand in tech services; it was first, though (as Wipro and Infosys will tell

you) it is far from the best today. And it leads, with an overwhelming legacy of

investment. So Bangalore is the top global brand. Even if other cities are 'better'.

"A #2 brand that uses a 'better' claim is rarely a big success."


What if the 'first' is taken? Find a category to be first in! Gurgaon is

BPO. Chennai's sustained automotive focus built up a cluster and supply chain,

making it the choice for new entrants. And it built a strong base for financial

services work, domestic and exports. These categories are now taken. Jaipur is

'also BPO'-GE went there. But to lead and be top of the mind, Jaipur has

to find a sharper focus, create a new category to lead.

"If you're not first, be successful by being the opposite of the

leader. BMW became the opposite of Mercedes-Benz; Pepsi, the opposite of

Coke." Kolkata focuses on the 'opposites of Bangalore': less crowded,

room for growth, power surplus, lower attrition, etc.

"Divide and conquer. Exploit divergence. Categories expand in different

directions, creating opportunities for narrowly focused brands. The 24-hr coffee

shop that served everything was upstaged by chains that focused on hamburgers

(McDonald's), chicken (KFC), pizza (Pizza Hut), submarine sandwiches (Subway),

ice cream (Baskin-Robbins)...."


"Prune. As a category diverges into two or more different categories, a

company needs to decide what operations to prune." So if a state's IT

department is trying to sell to tech services and BPO and manufacturing and....

Stop! Saying no to the non-focus areas could lead to better dividends in the

long term, including the power of clustering.

That's the challenge for India's states. Focus. Persist. Lead. And own a


Prasanto K Roy